The Valentine’s spirit is present as the students and staff prepare to celebrate this day of love. And what better way to celebrate than with delicious food?! We’ve compiled recipes for a variety of palettes so you can show your love to all the special people in your life.
1 pint strawberries
1/2 bag chocolate chips
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Picture and recipe via: www.Zestuous.com
1/2 cup coconut oil (or butter)
1 med onion, diced
28 oz. diced tomatoes
2 tsps salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp of dried thyme)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup coconut cream (or dairy cream)
2 tablespoons of orange zest
Picture and recipe via: www.liagriffith.com
5 oz white chocolate or white vanilla candy melts
5 oz red candy melts (Found in craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby)
5 cups rice chex cereal, divided in 2 parts
1/2 cup strawberry cake mix
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1. Put 2 1/2 cups rice chex cereal into a medium sized bowl.
2. Slowly melt white chocolate in the microwave, stopping it every 30 seconds or so to make sure it doesn’t burn.
3. Add melted white chocolate to chex cereal and lightly stir to coat evenly. Be careful to not break the chex cereal too much.
4. Add the powdered sugar to the white chocolate covered chex cereal and lightly stir to coat evenly with powdered sugar. You could add the chex cereal and powdered sugar to a ziplock bag, then shake, but save yourself the bag.
5. Repeat the same process with the red candy melts and strawberry cake mix (instead of the powdered sugar).
6. Allow to dry completely and then combine the two kinds of puppy chow together and add M&Ms.
Picture and recipe via: www.lifeloveandsugar.com
1 cup (255g) natural creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup (180ml) nonfat milk
1 large egg (or 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce)
2 cups (244g) whole wheat flour*
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup (30g) oats (either whole-rolled or quick oats are fine)
2-3 strips cooked bacon, chopped
Picture and recipe via: Sally’s Baking Addiction
Hello again from Pathfinder Ranch! Now that spring has sprung on the mountain, we wanted to take a moment to tell you all about some ways to get involved with your local community and get some great food while you’re at it. While Farmers Markets have risen in popularity the past few years, most people don’t know there is another way to get farm fresh produce and meat.
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a perfect way to get to know and directly support your local farmers. Farms that offer a CSA will usually have a “box” filled with that week’s harvest. Depending on the farm, there may be produce, meat, or even processed products. Buying directly from the farm is cheaper for both you and the farmers as products sold at farmers markets have to be priced up to cover the cost of staffing the stall and renting the space.
Here is a list of some of our local farms that offer a CSA. If these are not convenient to you, look for a CSA in your area!
Inland Empire CSA – a partnership between Sage Mountain Farm and De Luz Farms
Sage Mountain Farm – produce and beef
Primal Pastures – lamb, beef, pork, chicken, eggs, fish, and honey
Da-Le Ranch – many different types of meat
Meanwhile at Pathfinder we are connecting with our food by planting it for ourselves! The garden is currently producing Brussel’s sprouts, lettuce and carrots from the winter, but in the high tunnel we are gearing up for a delicious and colorful summer. The students are helping us by seeding and transplanting melons, beans, and California Poppies among many other things. We hope a little time here in our garden will inspire our guests to go home and grow food and flowers for themselves!!
DID YOU KNOW?
In the United States, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, which averages to more than 20 pounds of food waste per person per month.[i]
Ninety-seven percent of our food waste goes to landfills. This means that 33 million tons of food goes into landfills each year.[ii]
THAT’S A LOT OF WASTE!!!
There are things that we can do! If you have already been to Pathfinder, you know all about Garbology and how you can do Garbology at home. If you are new to Pathfinder, check out this blog from March 6th to find out all about how Garbology works. Then, you can practice at home and at school before you come up to Pathfinder. Practice will be important because we are starting an awards program for schools that achieve zero waste at meals. In addition to the pride of knowing they are awesome and have zero waste meals, schools can now earn awards for zero waste meals! Schools that have zero waste for three or more meals are awarded the Gold Plate. Schools that have two meals of zero waste are awarded the Silver Plate, and schools that have one meal of zero waste are awarded the Bronze Plate. So start practicing, and get ready to earn your school the Gold Plate award!
Time is flying by here at the Ranch; we can’t believe it is coming up on the end of our fall season! We are having such a great season, and since Thanksgiving is a few days away, we figure, why not look back at all we have to be thankful for!?
First, we are thankful for the rain that the Ranch got this past week! You know we will take any rain or snow we can get, but the fact that it came over night and didn’t force any of our classes inside was even better! Plus, who doesn’t like waking up to the fresh smell of rain and ribbonwood?
We are also thankful for the cool fall temperatures and the beautiful leaf colors all over the Ranch! One of the most beautiful views to see the changing leaves is on the horse trail. What an amazing sight!
We have had a few new additions to Betsy’s Farm! We now have three Silkie chickens and two Silkie roosters. They are loving their new life at the Ranch and are a great addition to our farm. The students love watching them and getting the chance to pet them while out at the farm!
Pathfinder is also thankful for our friends and supporters! In case you missed it, we had an amazing time at the Food Truck FriendRaiser on November 16th at The Living Desert! We saw so many old friends and made a lot of new ones, too, all while listening to great music, eating delicious food and enjoying The Living Desert exhibits!
Last, but certainly not least, we are thankful for all of the students, teachers, and chaperones that have been up here at the Ranch this season and all those who are still to come. We love sharing this gorgeous place with you and teaching more about the world we live in!
And what post about the Thanksgiving season would be complete without a recipe for you to share at your table this holiday season!? Hope you love pumpkin as much as our Naturalists!
Yield: 3 loaves (16 slices each).
During the week of October 3rd through October 10th, 2014, Pathfinder Ranch conducted a waste audit. We collected, sorted, and weighed all of the waste that we produced during that week. We counted all of the waste going to the landfill as well as waste that was being diverted (i.e. sent to other places). The diverted waste included food that went to our compost pile and materials that we took to a recycling center.
We did this audit to look at how well we are practicing the three “R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. In 2002, Pathfinder did our first waste audit, and found that only 27.6% of the total waste was being diverted to compost or recycling. Since then, we have been doing more and more to reduce how much waste we produce and increase the percent that we divert from landfills. This year, our waste audit showed that we have increased the percent of our waste diverted to 46.6%! This is a fantastic change and we owe a big “Thank You!” to all of our visitors for helping us get to this level.
However, we’re always looking for ways to improve. We want to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills even more. Here’s how you can help us:
So why did we do this?
We wanted to know how big our ecological footprint is. An ecological footprint is how much of an impact we have on our earth’s ecosystems based on the things we do every day. For example, how long of showers you take, the types of food that you eat, how you get to school, how often you buy new things, and how much waste you create, all affect the ecosystems around us. You can take a quiz from Islandwood Outdoor Learning Center, to find out your ecological footprint using this link http://footprint-calculator.islandwood.org/ . You can also complete your own waste audit at school or in your home to see how much waste is being produced and how you can reduce it. Look at Willow’s blog from October 2, 2013 to find out how to complete your own waste audit.
See you down the Trail!
September was a big month at Pathfinder Ranch! Fall announced its presence, weather is cooling off (thankfully), the leaves are changing colors, four new naturalists are teaching away, two new chickens (Silkies) have joined our farm flock, and seven schools have already visited. Yes, the new season is in full swing. We also have a new addition to our garden space. Drum roll please… take a look at our High Tunnel! Our maintenance crew toiled away to get this up last month and we are so excited. This will allow us to extend our growing seasons, and give us more workspace for garden classes. Possibilities abound. Will we grow tomatoes? Eggplant? Flowers? Luffa? Keep your eye on our Facebook page for High Tunnel updates.
Autumn brings many things, including delicious seasonal produce like squash and pumpkin. Pumpkins are great for carving and pies, not to mention roasting the seeds for yet another yummy snack, but what about the medley of winter squash showing up this time of year? There’s always time to try new things, especially when it comes to trying new seasonal foods. There’s butternut, kombocha, acorn, delecata, spaghetti, and even calabaza squash. The list could continue, and there are more recipes than we could cook up if we spent the whole season in the kitchen, but here’s a simple recipe to get you into the autumn spirit.
Baked Acorn Squash
1) Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C).
2) Using a sharp, sturdy knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half, from stem to tip. (A rubber mallet can help if you have one.) The squash can rock back and forth, so take care as you are cutting it.
Use a sturdy metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy bits inside each squash half, until the inside is smooth.
Take a sharp paring knife and score the insides of the acorn squash halves in a cross-hatch pattern, about a half-inch deep cuts.
Place the squash halves cut side up in a roasting pan. Pour 1/4-inch of water over the bottom of the pan so that the squash doesn’t burn or get dried out in the oven.
3) Rub a half teaspoon of butter into the insides of each half. Sprinkle with a little salt if you are using unsalted butter. Crumble a tablespoon of brown sugar into the center of each half and drizzle with a teaspoon of maple syrup.
4) Bake for about an hour to one hour 15 minutes, until the tops of the squash halves are nicely browned, and the squash flesh is very soft and cooked through. It’s hard to overcook squash, because it just gets better as it caramelizes. But don’t under cook it.
When done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a bit before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.
Well, that’s all for this installment. See you down the trail,
Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists
Spring is just around the corner, and like the plants that are being reborn all around Pathfinder, the garden is getting revitalized, too! Spring cleaning has begun and the garden is getting a fresh make-over.
All hands are on deck as Pathfinder gets ready for the warm weather and 50th year celebration in April. Maintenance began a project in the front lobby to try and get some plants growing even earlier than the cold would allow; and it worked! Live in a cold place, or have soil with little to no nutrients? Check out our experimental hydroponics system. Hydroponics doesn’t require soil. Instead, the plants are placed in plastic containers (drill holes through the sides and bottom) that are filled with shredded coconut medium, which absorbs water and nutrients from the water basin that it’s submerged in. We used an old plastic bin, recycled yogurt containers, an aquarium pump, and 6 gallons of purified water. Instead of daily watering, with hydroponics you can simply add 1 gallon of water every two weeks!
Not only can plants grow year round when protected from the elements outside, but you can also save both space and water! In our experiment, the basil is flourishing but our spinach is not. Try it at home and post the results of your own hydroponics system on our Facebook page. We’d sure love to know!
Another project a few Naturalists have been working on is our compost. As the weather gets warmer, and we want to grow many more things than will fit in our hydroponics system, we need soil for our plants to thrive in. As old plant matter breaks down, it creates fertile soil which you can use for planting. This decomposition harnesses the power of the circle of life. Why buy something you normally just throw away each day? Use those food scraps and start your own compost. Your garden will love you for it!
Have you ever composted before? If not, here are a few tips from our resident garden expert, Rain:
1. Dig your compost pile down at least a few inches. This makes the pile easier to turn and keeps heat in. Keeping the pile warmer will produce soil sooner.
2. Cover your compost. Again, this keeps it nice and warm which breaks down material faster. This also helps to keep unwanted critters away.
3. Turn your compost. There are plenty of fun ways to do this, including rolling it around in an old trash can! The reason is simple..all those microbes and other organisms like earthworms that help the food turn to soil need the help of oxygen.
4. Add nearly everything! Add any food waste that comes from plants: bread, veggies, fruit cores and peels, pasta, french fries, coffee grinds, tomato sauce, leaves and twigs, and even old paper, napkins, and tea bags! (Did you know it takes less energy for the paper to break down in the compost than to be recycled into new paper? Plus this added carbon helps the compost to be more nutritious and less smelly!)
New projects are springing forward to make this year’s garden the most beautiful and bountiful yet! We’ve had some amazing 4th-6th grade gardeners already come and help plant many new crops. How about you? This spring you too could revitalize that little plot of green space or an empty windowsill into a lean, mean food producing machine!
Thanks for reading,
Your Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists and Staff
Oh, the stories we hear working at the Ranch. Stewart, our Facilities Director (a.k.a. Do-Everything-Extraordinaire), told me about the story of Betsy’s Farm.
One of our wonderful donors, Deana Brix has a mother-in-law, Betsy, who is very prim and proper and doesn’t like to get dirty. Betsy’s Farm at Pathfinder Ranch is actually named after her. Their family joke was to name a place where kids can get their hands dirty after a family member who doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. And boy, do the kids like to get their hands dirty at the farm.
The last two weeks we have had students explore and learn about the farm and our animals. I think their favorite thing was to chase the chickens around. Usually our farm classes get to help feed and interact with the animals, particularly the pigs and goats. What a better way to learn more about where our food comes from than to give it a little scratch behind the ears!
New Farm Faces
A gracious member of our local Garner Valley community recently donated some new goats to Pathfinder Ranch. We’re always excited to add new faces to our farm, but these goats are a pretty unique addition. Both of our new goats are smaller in stature than what you’d imagine for a goat. We have a new pygmy goat and a Nigerian Dwarf goat, Miss Daisy Mae and Blue Jasmine.
Miss Daisy Mae is a Pygmy goat. Pygmy goats originated in the Cameroon Valley of West Africa. They were imported into the United States from European zoos in the 1950s for use in zoos as well as research animals. They were eventually acquired by private breeders and quickly gained popularity as pets and exhibition animals due to their good-natured personalities, friendliness and hardy constitution. (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_goat)
Blue Jasmine is a Nigerian Dwarf goat. The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a miniature dairy goat breed of West African ancestry. Originally brought to the United States on ships as food for large cats such as lions, the survivors originally lived in zoos. Nigerian Dwarf goats are popular as hobby goats due to their easy maintenance and small stature. (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigerian_Dwarf_(goat))
Both of our new goats are female adults about 5 years old, and at full size. They are dairy goats, but we don’t plan on milking them, plus they no longer produce milk anyway. They have already taken a liking to the students that have had the chance to visit with them.
Tune in for our next blog update where we’ll tell you about some of the exciting things going on at our garden and new hydroponics plant bed!
For our schools that have already attended, we know that you love and miss garbology (the study of food waste). For our schools yet to come, we hope you’re getting excited, but why should we keep this important program all to ourselves?! Why not bring Garbology and conservation back to your schools, homes, and local communities?! To help get you started, you should check out this fun website that talks about garbology: http://www.naturebridge.org/garbology.php.
Talk to your family about studying what you throw away each week. Then, you can see if you can reduce the amount of waste going to a landfill by looking at what can be REUSED, COMPOSTED, or RECYCLED. You can find a list of things that can be recycled by looking at your city’s waste and recycling website.
You can bring garbology to your school by encouraging your classmates to look at what they are throwing away at lunch and in the classrooms. Just like at Pathfinder, the waste from your lunches can be sorted into recycling, compost, and trash. If you do not have recycling or composting at your school, you can ask your teachers and your principal to help you start these programs. You can also talk to your school about signing up for a cool program called TerraCycle. TerraCycle is a company that accepts a variety of used school and office items like empty juice pouches, empty Lunchable containers, and even pens so that they can be made into new products. You can sign up for this at http://www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades.html.
Good luck and see you down the trail!
-Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists
Things were busy here at the Ranch before our season ended in the middle of December! We’ve had a lot of schools visit us over this past fall (about 20 in total). Thank you to all of our fall schools. What a great season! We’ve enjoyed the holidays with family and friends, cooking delicious foods, and building fires to keep us warm on cold nights. Even some of the animals at the Ranch have had the holiday spirit. Take a look!
When they aren’t playing with the animals and teaching classes, the Naturalists at the Ranch have been hard at work this season designing new programs that can fit into our classes! One of the newest additions is an indoor planetarium that will soon be used during our Astronomy evening program! Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate the way we wish it would, so on rainy or cloudy nights we can potentially use this to help students see constellations and stars in our night sky!
Once inside we can project pictures of different constellations, stars and planets that we talk about during astronomy!
If you’re interested in building one of your own or seeing how it works, here is the website: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/education/videos/playVideo.cfm?videoID=28
Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful time of year! Besides the current week of oddly warm temperatures, it has definitely gotten colder and colder here. So, why not warm up with this delicious hot chocolate recipe?!
Slow Cooker Deluxe Hot Chocolate
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 (6-oz.) pkg. (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
2 quarts (8 cups) milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
Miniature semisweet chocolate chips
Peppermint candy sticks
Assorted liqueurs and flavored syrups
Chocolate cookie crumbs
Happy Holidays and See You Down the Trail,
Pathfinder Ranch Outdoor Education Staff